cropped-supporters_of_britain_red_liberation.pngPalestine: Lessons of the alQuds Clashes

By Yossi Schwartz and Boris Hammerschlag, Internationalist Socialist League (Section of the RCIT in Israel/Occupied Palestine), 26.07.2017, www.the-isleague.com

 

 

 

In the last two weeks the Zionist state has proven in action, that the widespread Palestinian belief that Israel is acting to take over the alAqsa compound has substantial merit to it. This battle for sovereignty over the holy places between the Zionist colonialist society and the native Palestinian population proves right before our eyes what we have been claiming for the past decade. The idea that a colonialist society, as a whole, is in any way shape or form capable of self-containment, is ludicrous at best.

 

It was also proven that the native Palestinian nation cannot afford to let its guard down for even a split second. Furthermore, should it collectively take a decisive position of struggle, it could put enough pressure to send the Zionist apartheid regime on a humiliating retreat.

 

Retreat we say and stand by it, but unfortunately, not defeat. In order to defeat Zionism, i.e. establish a Palestinian democratic republic, a genuinely free society for all native religious groups and ethnicities from the river to the sea, Israel must lose its protective vest in the form of the corrupt, despotic and oppressive regimes throughout the region, via a renewed revolutionary Arab Spring.

 

Benjamin Netanyahu, who is internationally known as a person who cannot distinguish fact from fiction, has declared that Israel does not wish to change the status quo over the “Temple Mount”. However, by installing metal detectors, it had placed at the entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and by using Israeli police to decide who will enter the mosques, Israel has shown that it considers itself as the sole sovereign.

 

If anyone still had any illusions, a day before yesterday (Monday) Tzipi Hotovely, a member of the Knesset for the Likud, and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2015, conveyed a few times on the Israeli TV that Israel is the sole sovereign over the compound she calls Har Habayit (Temple Mount). In an infamous interview she also shared her dream with the viewers to see the Israeli flag fly over the Temple Mount. (1)

 

 

 

Murder Fiasco in Jordan

 

 

 

Yesterday, the issue has surfaced in Jordan when an Israeli security guard murdered in cold blood two Arabs, one of them a 17-year old Palestinian. According to Jordanian news service two Jordanians have been killed and an Israeli wounded by gunfire in a residential building in the heavily fortified Israeli embassy compound in Jordan’s capital of Amman. The kingdom’s Public Security Directorate said that the shooting took place on Sunday evening in a residential building used by embassy staff. Police said that the two Jordanians worked for a furniture company and entered the embassy compound to carry out repairs.

 

Thousands of Jordanians took to the streets of Amman after Friday prayers to denounce the Israeli measures at the al-Haram ash-Sharif compound. Jordan is the official custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. (2)

 

According to the Israeli media the 17-year old youth attacked the guard with a screwdriver and the guard used his pistol to kill him. Even if this was the case, it is clear that the trained guard could disarm the young man very easily. The boy was killed because the guard wanted to.

 

King Abdullah is a loyal servant of US imperialism and an ally of Israel. Thus, he allowed the killer to leave for Israel. However, Israel was forced to remove the metal detectors, but in another humiliating act for the Muslims expressed its plans to have them replaced by most-advanced surveillance cameras.

 

Whether the Zionist government is acting out of plain stupidity or sinister aims, we do not have sufficient evidence to be sure. But the colonialist struggle between a settler colonialist society and the native population is gradually being nudged by the Zionist movement’s right wing towards a global religious holy war between the Jews and nearly 2 billion Muslims. The Zionist right also tries very hard to drag the Christian world along with it to participate in this bloody adventure.

 

This time, it retreated because it failed to provoke enough desperate and misguided individuals to retaliate in a sufficiently horrifying manner. It failed to rally enough public support outside Israel, but mostly it received enough phone calls from its neighboring ally dictators demanding that it stops contributing to the destabilization of their regimes.

 

Israel is not only an oppressive place for the Palestinians and the Arabs in general, but a death trap for the Jews. The only way for the Jews to survive is to break from Zionism and join the Palestinian struggle against their national oppression. To such Jews who see themselves as supporters of democracy and social justice we suggest, as a first step, joining forces with Balad, which recently officially opened its gate to social justice-oriented Israelis.

 

The only way forward is to organize the mass-struggle around the idea of a single decolonized democratic state formed by the Palestinian workers, urban and rural poor, and those Jews willing to break with Zionism.

 

 

 

Footnotes

 

(1) http://www.timesofisrael.com/deputy-fm-i-dream-of-israeli-flag-flying-over-temple-mount/

 

(2) http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/deadly-shooting-incident-israeli-embassy-jordan-170723185223671.html

 

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

For the ISL and the RCIT analysis of the Palestinian liberation struggle, we refer readers to our numerous articles and documents accessed from the Africa and Middle East section of our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/. In particular we refer readers to the following documents:

 

RCIT: Al-Aqsa Uprising: Solidarity with the Palestinian Resistance! For an International Solidarity Campaign with the Palestinian People! For an Immediate End to the Blockade against Gaza! For a Free Red Palestine! 25.7.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/statement-al-aqsa/

 

ISL: Al-Aqsa Uprising: Zionists Provoke Global Clash with Muslim World, 25.07.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/report-al-aqsa-25-7-2017/

 

Boris Hammerschlag: Israel – Hands Off Al-Aqsa! Revolutionaries – Defend the Rights of Muslims! 22.07.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/defend-al-aqsa/

 

Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s War of 1948 and the Degeneration of the Fourth International, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013, www.thecommunists.net/theory/israel-s-war-of-1948-1

 

Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s Six-Day War of 1967. On the Character of the War, the Marxist Analysis and the Position of the Israeli Left, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 12, July/August 2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/israel-s-war-of-1967/

 

Summary of the Program of the Internationalist Socialist League, February 2014, http://www.the-isleague.com/our-platform/

 

Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/permanent-revolution-in-palestine

 

RCIT: World Perspectives 2017: The Struggle against the Reactionary Offensive in the Era of Trumpism, Theses on the World Situation, the Perspectives for Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries, 18 December 2016, Chapter IV. The Middle East and the State of the Arab Revolution, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-perspectives-2017/part-4/

 

RCIT: Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Arab World: An Acid Test for Revolutionaries, 31 May 2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/theses-arab-revolution/

 

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cropped-supporters_of_britain_red_liberation.pngAl-Aqsa Uprising: Solidarity with the Palestinian Resistance!

 

For an International Solidarity Campaign with the Palestinian People! For an Immediate End to the Blockade against Gaza! For a Free Red Palestine!

 

Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 25.7.2017, www.thecommunists.net

 

 

 

The Zionist Apartheid State of Israel has again intensified its decades-long oppression of the Palestinian people. A couple of weeks ago, it increased the already existing access restrictions on Palestinians to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem – one of the most important holy places, not only for the Palestinian people, but for 1.7 billion Muslims around the world.

 

The RCIT declares its unconditional solidarity with the protests of the Palestinian people! We support the demand of the Palestinians for the withdrawal of all Israeli security forces from the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and unrestricted access to this site for Muslim worshippers.

 

We denounce the Zionist Apartheid State of Israel as a racist and oppressive colonial state.

 

We support the demand for the unconditional right of return for the millions of Palestinians, whether currently residing beyond the borders of Mandatory Palestine or as internally displaced persons living inside Israel, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank who have been prevented from returning to their homes following the wars of 1948, 1967, and as a result of the ongoing policy of uprooting and ethic cleansing perpetrated by the Zionist regime.

 

We stand in solidarity with the resistance of the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank against the Israeli occupation.

 

We condemn any collaboration of the official Palestinian administration with the Israeli state.

 

We denounce the barbaric, inhuman blockade which Israel has imposed against the Gaza Strip, by which it alone decides how much food, medicine, building materials and equipment of all sorts enters what is the world’s largest open air prison. We also condemn the collaboration with this blockade by the military dictatorship in Egypt.

 

We call for the replacement of the Zionist Apartheid State of Israel with a joint democratic Palestinian State from the river to the sea. Such a state, where all Jews who respect the Palestinian right of national self-determination will be able to find their place, can only exist as a workers’ and fellahin republic. For a Free Red Palestine! For a Socialist Federation in the Middle East!

 

The struggle for the liberation of the Palestinian people is an integral part of the struggle against all reactionary dictatorships and monarchies world-wide and in specifically in the Muslim world: the regimes of Assad in Syria, General al-Sisi in Egypt, King Salman in Saudi Arab, and the theocracy of Rouhani in Iran being the most prominent. This struggle is also part of the international struggle against all imperialist Great Powers (i.e., the US, EU, Russia and China).

 

* * * * *

 

The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency(RCIT) is an international organization with sections and activists in 14 countries (including Occupied Palestine / Israel).

For the ISL and the RCIT analysis of the Palestinian liberation struggle, we refer readers to our numerous articles and documents accessed from the Africa and Middle East section of our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/. In particular we refer readers to the following documents:

ISL: Al-Aqsa Uprising: Zionists Provoke Global Clash with Muslim World, 25.07.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/report-al-aqsa-25-7-2017/

Boris Hammerschlag: Israel – Hands Off Al-Aqsa! Revolutionaries – Defend the Rights of Muslims! 22.07.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/defend-al-aqsa/

Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s War of 1948 and the Degeneration of the Fourth International, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013, www.thecommunists.net/theory/israel-s-war-of-1948-1

Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s Six-Day War of 1967. On the Character of the War, the Marxist Analysis and the Position of the Israeli Left, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 12, July/August 2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/israel-s-war-of-1967/

Summary of the Program of the Internationalist Socialist League, February 2014, http://www.the-isleague.com/our-platform/

Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/permanent-revolution-in-palestine

RCIT: World Perspectives 2017: The Struggle against the Reactionary Offensive in the Era of Trumpism, Theses on the World Situation, the Perspectives for Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries, 18 December 2016, Chapter IV. The Middle East and the State of the Arab Revolution, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-perspectives-2017/part-4/

RCIT: Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Arab World: An Acid Test for Revolutionaries, 31 May 2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/theses-arab-revolution/

 

 

 

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cropped-supporters_of_britain_red_liberation.pngIsrael – Hands Off Al-Aqsa! Revolutionaries – Defend the Rights of Muslims!

By Boris Hammerschlag, Internationalist Socialist League (Section of the RCIT in Israel/Occupied Palestine), 22.07.2017, www.the-isleague.com

 

 

 

Yet another wave of violence is sweeping AlQuds (Jerusalem) and the holy al-Aqsa compound. A guerilla shooting attack by three Muslim Palestinian citizens of Israel, which happened last week (14 July) and led to the death of two Israeli Policemen, has been expectedly used by the Israeli government as an excuse to enact collective punishment, political arrests and murderous repression. The clashes that soon followed have claimed so far the lives of 3 Palestinians and 3 Israeli West Bank settlers with ~140 Palestinians injured.

 

The Internationalist Socialist League places the blame for these Palestinian and Israeli-Jewish deaths and injuries squarely on the Zionist ultra-right-wing government and its consistent provocative policy of shifting the Zionist-Palestinian conflict from a colonialist-nationalist struggle into a global inter-religious holy war.

 

We call upon all revolutionary minded socialists, as well as all supporters of freedom and democracy, to take a stand in mass mobilizations in defense of Muslim religious freedom, in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for the de-colonization and full liberation of their homeland, from the river to the sea.

 

We continue to strongly and consistently maintain our position that the only way to achieve peace, prosperity and social justice in Palestine is through a regional democratic revolution led by an alliance of the working class and the oppressed masses. This revolution must not limit itself to the attainment of full-democracy, but continue uninterrupted as a socialist revolution. Otherwise, all democratic or social gains would quickly be rolled back by a bourgeois capitalist counter-revolution.

 

 

 

Refuting one-by-one the Lies of the Zionist Media and State-Funded Propaganda

 

 

 

Lie #1 – Israel has imposed a complete ban on Muslims entering the al-Aqsa compound for the first time in 48 years, placing metal detectors and flooding the area with security forces, only because it is concerned with the security and religious freedom of the Jews, Muslims and Christians.

 

The truth is that Israel has been using its stranglehold over all the holy sites it occupied in 1967 to collectively punish the Palestinian population whenever any of them act according to their UN-mandated right to armed resistance against an illegal military occupation.

 

Any political entity truly concerned with human lives and religious freedom would not have annexed holy sites placing them under military or police-state rule, and it would certainly refrain from using its own population as human shields by moving them to settle occupied lands, nor fund religious fanatic NGOs that are openly calling for the removal of the al-Aqsa mosque in favor of a 3rd Jewish Temple. (1)

 

Lie #2 – Israel is doing nothing wrong nor special by placing metal detectors at the entrance to the holy compound. Many other religious holy-sites and places of cultural importance have metal detectors, including the Vatican and the Ka’aba in Mecca.

 

The truth is that all of these other places have metal detectors placed at the request, or at least consent, of the worshippers, by those who they see as the legitimate sovereign.

 

Historical experience shows that those Muslims and peaceful tourists who frequent the al-Aqsa compound have only the occupation police, occupation military and the occasional ultra-right-wing religious fanatic settler, armed with an Israeli army issued machine gun, to fear – none of which have any business entering the site in the first place. If any metal-detectors should be put in place, it should be done by the Waqf administration to guard against the Zionists and not vice versa.

 

The Palestinians have every right to be wary, in the 1930’s Zionist leaders have also promised that they do not want to take over the western wall, and after the 1967’ war that they will not hurt the Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil.

 

Many Israelis can’t seem to grasp what’s the big deal with security checks by Israeli soldiers, perhaps, they need to ask themselves why are they fasting on Tish’a B’Av and what led to the Jewish rebellion against the Romans.

 

Lie #3 – The terrorists who shot and killed the two policemen near the compound were radicalized and incited to violence by the leadership of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, namely the recently shut down, by invoking a permanent “state of emergency”, Islamic Movement (Northern Branch).

 

Firstly, those who kill armed occupation policemen cannot be classified as terrorists, but as guerillas. Secondly, It is true that the IMNB has been for a while a leading voice in claiming Israel has sinister aims in alQuds – not only in the Jewification (a form of Zionist gentrification project) of Palestinian villages and neighborhoods in alQuds (East Jerusalem), but also physically undermining the structure of the Mosques and the holy compound under the guise of archeological excavations and research – all for the sake of rebuilding the mythical Jewish Temple of antiquity.

 

However, the truth is that such concerns are not expressed without a solid basis. Jewification of certain Arab-majority areas is historically an open and declarative Zionist practice. One of the major revolutionary outbreaks in Palestine – the 1936-39 uprising – was partly provoked by what the Zionists openly called “the occupation of labor”. Under the slogan of Hebrew Labor, the Zionist leadership made considerable efforts to get rid of Arab workers in all fields of occupation and replace them with Jewish workers. The workings of Zionist settler colonialism are already quite well known around the world.

 

Israel has been excavating the ground under the al-Aqsa mosque to find archeological proof of a Jewish presence and religious life in the area 2000 years ago. Muslims who come to pray in the compound post countless of photos online of cracks that are forming in the walls of the mosque above and nearby houses, holes that suddenly open in the ground, etc. (2)

 

We do not have sufficient evidence that the Israeli government is deliberately preparing the sudden destruction of al-Aqsa. However, as an occupying force, an illegitimate usurper of power, it has zero right to apply any changes to or around the holy sites.

 

We can certainly do understand the concerns of the Muslim population of Palestine for their places of worship. After all, “Price-tag” arson attacks by Zionist hard-liners against Mosques and Churches are commonplace in Israel and the occupied territories, with extremely rare cases of capturing and prosecuting the perpetrators by the Israeli authorities. (3)

 

Furthermore, the voices of those who support the construction of the 3rd Temple for Jews in alQuds have, in recent years, moved at an extremely fast pace, from the dark fringes of the Zionist Kahanist extreme right to the mainstream of the “moderate” right-wing Zionist ruling party – HaLikud, headed by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

Lie #4 – Israel is the state of all Jews around the world and as such it is responsible for maintaining freedom of worship in the “Temple Mount”, as well as the security of the worshippers in the adjacent Wailing Wall compound. The Muslim leadership is the enemy of religious freedom as it would not allow Jews to pray at the al-Aqsa compound, where the Jewish Temple once stood. It further serves to prove that Islam is a religion of intolerance and terrorism.

 

The truth is that the Zionist movement has perhaps the most hypocritical political doctrines on the planet today. Just a few weeks ago the government revoked a compromise plan that would have allowed non-Ultra-Orthodox Jews to pray in the manner they see fit (men and women pray together, women leading prayer, sing scripture aloud, etc.) in a miniscule portion of the Wailing Wall compound.

 

We are quite sure that non-Orthodox Jewish women who came to worship at the Wailing Wall did not feel very much secure when they faced a barrage of spit, rocks, plastic chairs etc., only to be forcefully hauled away by police as provocateurs, instead of arresting their attackers. In Palestine under Zionism – one must pick carefully one’s victimizer! Muslim attackers would not have been allowed to continue breathing in similar circumstances.

 

Muslims, on the other hand, have been allowing Jews to enter their mosques to worship when snow piling up in areas of Turkey would not have allowed such prayer in the Jewish synagogues. During the holocaust, mosques gave shelter to Jews in Paris and Northern Africa and hid them from the Nazis.

 

Israel’s apparent motivation to turn the colonial conflict into a religious holy war could perhaps be explained by the pressure of increasingly declining support from the largest Jewish population outside Israel – American Jews. Polls suggest that a wapping 15% of them did not only withdraw their automatic support of Israel, but also support the efforts to boycott, divest and sanction its institutions – the BDS campaign.

 

An increasing number of Jews now understand Israel’s true nature as a death trap for Jews rather than their salvation. When Israel’s prime minister acts all chummy with the symbol of American male chauvinism and white supremacism – Donald Trump – who received open support from open antisemitic elements such as the KKK and neo-Nazi gangs – it is getting tougher and tougher to refuse to put 2 and 2 together.

 

 

 

Individual heroism is not the answer! It is time for action of mass mobilization!

 

 

 

The ISL (Israel/ Occupied Palestine) does not support individual acts of terrorism or heroic individual guerilla attacks. We do not see any benefit that comes from such individualist actions to the Palestinian struggle, understandable as they may be. We see how the Zionist leadership uses such attacks as an excuse to raise the level of brutality of its apartheid regime.

 

It is time for the Palestinian people and their supporters among the Israeli Jews to rise up and organize in mass collective and unified mobilizations. The urgent task is to organize democratic popular action committees. We must provide all of those who wish to fight Zionist apartheid, oppression and land theft and opportunity to do so collectively. We must find a way stir hope in their hearts instead of despair!

 

 

 

Footnotes

 

(1) http://www.mako.co.il/home-family-kids/education/Article-4b5d7eb38b9ec51006.htm

 

(2) https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170228-minister-israels-excavations-are-damaging-al-aqsa/

 

(3) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/09/christians-israel-palestine-rise-violence-pope-visit

 

 

 

For the RCIT analysis of the liberation in Palestine, we refer readers to our numerous articles and documents accessed from the Africa and Middle East section of our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/. In particular we refer readers to the following documents:

 

ISL: Support the Demands of the Palestinian Freedom Fighters in Israeli Prisons! Free All Palestinian Political Prisoners! 21.4.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/palestinian-hunger-strike/

 

RCIT: World Perspectives 2017: The Struggle against the Reactionary Offensive in the Era of Trumpism, Theses on the World Situation, the Perspectives for Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries, 18 December 2016, Chapter IV. The Middle East and the State of the Arab Revolution, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-perspectives-2017/part-4/

 

RCIT: Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Arab World: An Acid Test for Revolutionaries, 31 May 2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/theses-arab-revolution/

 

RCIT: Israel Starts Ground Offensive: Defend Gaza! Defeat Israel’s War! Support the Palestinian Resistance! For a Workers’ and Popular International Campaign to Boycott Israel! Down with the Regimes which Collaborate with Israel! For a Free, Red Palestine! 22.7.2014, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/joint-statement-defend-gaza/

 

Yossi Schwartz: Israel, Hands Off Al-Aqsa! Down with the Israeli Apartheid State! 5.11.2014, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/hands-off-al-aqsa/

 

Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s War of 1948 and the Degeneration of the Fourth International, May 2013, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/israel-s-war-of-1948/

 

Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine. Thoughts on some exceptionalities of the Israeli state, the national oppression of the Palestinian people and its consequences for the program of the Bolshevik-Communists in Palestine, May 2013, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/permanent-revolution-in-palestine/

 

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cropped-supporters_of_britain_red_liberation.pngCapitalist Development in South Korea and Taiwan

By Michael Pröbsting, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), www.thecommunists.net

Originally published in Trotskyist International No.21, Theoretical Journal of the League for the Revolutionary Communist International (1997)

 

 

Note by the Editor: The following document is a shortened translation of a German-language survey which comrade Michael Pröbsting wrote in 1996. It was first published in the German-language journal of the LRCI “Revolutionärer Marxismus” No.20. It was translated and published in Trotskyist International No.21 (the English-language journal of the LRCI).

Comrade Pröbsting – a member of the international leadership of the LRCI/LFI – was bureaucratically expelled from this organization in April 2011 together with other comrades a few weeks after they formed a faction in opposition against the increasing centrist degeneration of the LFI. Immediately after their expulsion the expelled comrades built a new organization and founded together with sister organizations in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the USA the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) in April 2012.

We republish this document because, while it was written nearly two decades ago, its fundamental analyzes of the economic development of important South-East Asian capitalist countries remains relevant. In fact, our analysis of South Korea’s potential to become an emerging imperialist country has been proven correct.

 

* * *

 

The “Tiger Economies” of Asia are presented as proof of capitalism’s ability to develop the Third World. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, their high growth rates have been called the “second shock for Marxism”. Michael Pröbsting examines the unique circumstances which allowed rapid growth in South Korea and Taiwan, and explains the limits of this model of development.

The economic development of Taiwan and South Korea since the end of the Second World War can only be understood as the result of a completely unique combination of factors. These include their historic relationship to Japanese imperialism, their internal social structure and their subsequent roles during the Cold War. Although individually comparable features are to be found elsewhere in the world, it was their particular combination and sequencing which underpinned the high growth rates of the last four decades.

However, if it was the Cold War which created the conditions for sustained growth then the collapse of the Soviet Union raises a major question about the future prospects of the Tigers.1 Has their growth been enough to enable them to survive in the increasingly competitive world market? The signs are that the belief that the answer to this is yes will prove as illusory as the idea that the rest of the Third World could simply emulate them.

Two factors were crucial for the rapid industrialisation of South Korea and Taiwan: the legacy of Japanese colonialism and the land reform at the end of the 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s.

Early this century, South Korea and Taiwan were both colonies of Japan. Just as the search for profit has forced capital to increase the size of the proletariat, to educate and train it, so too imperialism, in some circumstances is obliged to unevenly develop the economies of its colonies and semi-colonies.

The extremely brutal subordination of these two countries by Japanese colonialism had a decisive impact on their social and economic structures. In keeping with the policy of “agricultural Taiwan, industrial Japan” they were shaped entirely according to Japan’s needs. Initially, this meant concentrating on restructuring the two colonies into efficient sources of agricultural produce. Thus, 95% of Taiwan’s sugar production and 52% of Korea’s rice went to Japan.2 Economic integration reached such a high intensity that between 1911 and 1940, 85% of Taiwan’s exports went to Japan and 74% of imports came from there. 3

This policy forced many peasants to move into production for the market. The consequences for the peasants were often dire. Many slid into dependence on leaseholdings and many others had to look for work in the towns. The consumption of rice between 1912 and 1936 was halved. The methods were certainly brutal but succeeded in integrating agriculture into the capitalist market.

Rule by the Japanese resulted in a massive weakening of the indigenous rural aristocracy, because the Japanese appropriated a large part of the land to themselves. In Korea, for example, in 1942, they possessed 80% of the forests and 25% of cultivated land.4 Also, to fulfil the aim of increasing agricultural productivity extensive investment in the rural infrastructure was necessary. This explains how, at the beginning of the 1950s, 33% of all households in Taiwan already had electricity.5

The concentrated war effort in the 1930s led to a second phase, the building of industry in Korea and Taiwan, primarily in food processing, oil refining, machinery and shipbuilding. By the outbreak of war, industry was already providing 18% of Taiwan’s GDP and 43% of Korea’s. Here, Japanese capital was even more dominant than in agriculture. In 1938, domestically owned capital accounted for a mere 11% of total industrial capital, and by 1943 this had sunk to just 3%. A few Japanese plants, 1.2% of all factories, produced 60% of all industrial output.6

The result of all this was that, after 1945, South Korea and Taiwan found themselves with a productive agricultural system and a relatively developed industry which belonged to no one after the flight of the Japanese and so could be easily taken over by the state bureaucracy. In addition, industrialisation created a reasonably well trained labour force. Taiwan, for example, already had a relatively high literacy rate of 60% in the 1950s.7

The second precondition for the rapid industrialisation of South Korea and Taiwan was the land reform which took place in both states at the end of the 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s. In the semi colonies land reforms which give the greater part of the land to at least a section of the peasantry are rare.

Normally, the traditional landlords form an alliance with the rising bourgeoisie and imperialism to retain the ownership of land in a few hands. This led, and leads, to the impoverishment of the peasantry, inadequate usage of cultivable land and, consequently, low agricultural productivity. In turn, this results in the minimal development of the domestic market and a consequent dependence on trade with the imperialist countries.

In South Korea and Taiwan after the Second World War a number of exceptional circumstances prevailed and land reform followed a different pattern. An important part of the landlord class simply disappeared because of the collapse of Japanese colonial rule. At the same time, the revolutionary wave of workers’ and peasants’ struggles in Korea and the civil war in Taiwan created massive pressure for land reform. This pressure was increased by US imperialism which saw the solution of the explosive agrarian question as a means of combating the “communist threat”.

The agrarian reform carried out between 1949 and 1953 had far reaching consequences. It created a broad peasant class which became a stable political base for the bourgeois bonapartist regime. In Taiwan, the proportion of landowners in the rural population grew from 38% (1952) to 67% (1965).8

It had a similar significance in South Korea. The leasing system was dissolved by law in 1949. The big landowners, however, were not expropriated; rather, they were given bonds with which to obtain shares in industrial undertakings. Some 40% of the land was redistributed in this way. By 1974, 70% of all households owned their land.9

The USA, while backing the military regimes in both countries, promoted capitalist agriculture in various ways. They poured huge funds into agriculture. According to Hamilton, 59% of net agrarian capital accumulation in Taiwan was financed by US money.10 In addition, from the 1950s the USA forced the “four tigers” to diversify away from agriculture towards manufacturing exports while simultaneously importing American agricultural produce through the so-called PL 480 programme. The systematic import of US rice undermined South Korean production and the self-sufficiency rate in rice production went down from 93%(1962) to 69% (1973).11 South Korea became the third biggest importer of US produce.12

However, bourgeois land reform had decisive consequences for the development of capitalism. Taiwan experienced a massive increase in agricultural labour productivity which grew at an annual rate of 3.7% between 1955 and 1964.13 Agricultural production doubled in Taiwan between 1951 and 1963. The resulting capital accumulation in the agrarian sector led to a high savings rate which was then channelled into the industrial sector.

Land reform also had another very important effect. In many semi-colonial countries, in which no substantial land reform has taken place, traditional social relations tie down a great deal of labour power. By contrast, in South Korea and Taiwan, the changes in property relations, together with increased productivity and the re-orientation away from rice cultivation, created a reserve army of labour which could be exploited on low wages in industry and the service sector. In this way a further essential precondition for the dynamic development of East Asian capital was created: a supply of human capital, labour power as a commodity.

The pro-capitalist land reform proved to be advantageous for the bourgeoisie because it ameliorated the explosive conflicts in the countryside, created a broad petit bourgeois and conservative peasant class, freed up an industrial reserve army and stimulated investment. All of these developments were beneficial for capitalist development.

 

Exploitation of the working class

 

Although the capitalist boom in Taiwan and South Korea resulted from the unique combination of several factors for Marxists one of them is pre-eminent: the exploitation of the working class. The decades long exploitation of a continually growing proletariat must be recognised as the motor of the capitalist economic miracle. Even bourgeois economists accept this. In a study for the World Bank, the neo-liberal economist, Ranis, wrote:

“Korea, just like Taiwan, could count on cheap unskilled but hardworking and educated workforces, an important component of any competitive, export-oriented development dynamic.”14

Another World bank economist pointed, in diplomatic terms, to the connection between the bonapartist dictatorship and the exploitation of the working class:

“The governments of these countries generally take a less accommodating stand against the demands of organised workers for a minimum wage than governments in other developing countries”15

The foundations of the decades of exploitation were laid in the bloody counter-revolutions at the end of the 1940s through which the ruling classes of South Korea and Taiwan consolidated their rule. While in South Korea dual power existed (soviet-type bodies, militant general strikes) Taiwan was marked by the confusion of the Chinese civil war and the hostility of many Taiwanese to the invading army of Chiang Kai-shek’s Guomindang (GMD).

With US backing, the South Korean bourgeoisie launched a military offensive against the radicalised trade union movement and inflicted a historic defeat on the working class. From then until the middle of the 1980s it was impossible for the Korean working class to create trade unions independent of the state, to say nothing of strike activity in defence of basic rights. The founder and boss of the Samsung “chaebol”, gave a typically forthright capitalist view when he said:

“I would rather lie under the earth than see a trade union tolerated in Samsung.”16

Happily, this wish was soon granted him.

In 1948, the establishment of the GMD regime in Taiwan was accompanied by a bloody massacre in which 30,000 people died. From the beginning, every independent movement of the working class was crushed before it could grow. An independent trade union movement did not develop until the end of the 1980s.

Not much imagination is needed to picture what all this meant in terms of working conditions, wages, working hours and so on. For example, in the early 1980s, the South Korean industrial workers had a 54 hour week, one of the longest in the world.17 They also worked in unbelievably bad conditions. In 1990, 2,336 people died in accidents at work and 132,893 were seriously injured.18

These conditions help explain the enormous gulf between the rises in agricultural productivity and those in wages. Between 1957 and 1972, in Taiwan, productivity grew 25-fold, wages only by a factor of nine. The corresponding figures for South Korea were 8.5 for productivity and 2.5 for wages. 19 Elsewhere Ranis shows that industrial wages grew only slightly faster than agricultural wages.20 In contrast industrial productivity grew much faster than in agriculture. The huge difference between productivity growth and the growth of wages points to the high rate of surplus value which was the real driving force of the process of capital accumulation.

The consequence of all these factors was that the concerted policy of land reform and industrialisation led directly to a dramatic growth of the working class. This increase in labour power allowed wages to be held down and, therefore, the uninterrupted rise in the production of surplus value and, with that, capital accumulation.

The basis of the economic miracles of these countries, then, was the decades long atomisation of the working classes. Of course the proletariat has been subjected to such conditions in other countries too, such as in Latin America, but not for an unbroken period stretching over four decades. While this specifically intensive exploitation of the working class is not enough to explain the whole of the economic boom it is the heart of the explanation.

 

Backing from Uncle Sam

 

The intensity and scale of the oppression of the workers cannot be understood without taking into account the support of US imperialism. The outbreak of the Cold War turned South Korea and Taiwan into front line bastions against the degenerate workers’ states of China and North Korea. Because of this the USA supported them on a scale far greater than any other state, with the exception of Israel.

Between 1945 and 1978, the USA handed over economic aid worth US$ 6,000 million to South Korea, that is the equivalent of all aid to the whole of Africa in the same period! In the 1950s, 80% of all South Korea’s imports were financed with US help.21 In the same way, the NIC’s were granted privileged access to the US domestic market, the biggest in the world. In the 1950s and early 1960s, US aid provided half the budgetary income of South Korea.

This had a direct influence on the process of capital accumulation. Between 1951 and 1965, the USA financed 34% of Taiwan’s gross investment and 59% of net agricultural capital accumulation.22 By the mid 1960s, more than half of South Korea’s capital formation came from American sources!23 Added to that there was massive military financial help. Taiwan received US$1.5 billion in this form between 1961 and 1965. One economist concluded that, through US aid, Taiwan’s growth rate was doubled, its gross national product per capita was quadrupled and the time needed to reach the living standards of 1964 was reduced by some 30 years.24

The USA did not only give financial help. It was also deeply involved in political and economic decision making. The land reform was an important example of this. Other strategically important decisions influenced by the US included the transfer of production away from low value-added products to petrochemicals, specialist machinery and computers.25

In Taiwan special commissions were established in which important decisions were jointly worked out. US involvement was far from altruistic. When necessary, Washington was prepared to blackmail the government. In 1960 it threatened to withdraw every form of support from Taiwan unless it accepted a 19 point programme which would liberalise markets, commerce, currency exchange, denationalisation and tax policy.26

While the national bourgeoisie of these countries have their own specific interests, which from time to time conflict with those of their imperialist guardian, these were downplayed throughout the Cold War. In this way, the USA furthered its primary political-military interests at the same time as South Korea and Taiwan enjoyed accelerated economic growth. Because of the special importance of these countries to US imperialism it accepted, even encouraged, a greater strengthening and self-reliance on the part of these bourgeoisies.

So long as the Cold War determined the world situation, the NICs and the USA were bound together in a political-strategic alliance. Naturally, the USA did not overlook its own economic interests, as the enforced import of American agricultural produce showed, but this was not the primary motive, as can be seen from the relatively low level of imperialist foreign investment in South Korea and Taiwan.

This long term, strategic support by US imperialism distinguishes South Korea and Taiwan from practically all other semi-colonial countries. There are other strong links with semi-colonial regimes, for example in Latin America, but these never required the same scale of support over such a long time. Israel is an exception to this, but the sharp political-military conflict in the Middle East prevented the Zionist bourgeoisie from integrating itself into the regional markets on anything like the same scale as was possible for Taiwan and South Korea.

 

The state and monopoly capitalism

 

South Korea and Taiwan are relatively developed examples of the characteristic form of capitalism in the imperialist epoch, state monopoly capitalism. In general, the role of the state in these countries has been substantial in both the political and economic spheres.

The first and central task of the state was the transformation of agrarian and commercial capital into industrial and then finance capital. Before 1945, Korean and Taiwanese capital was limited to agriculture and commerce. After the defeat of Japan industry was largely taken over by the state in both Taiwan and Korea.

In the former, the state took primary responsibility for further development while in Korea it was gradually handed over to private hands after the division of the country in the Korean War. The state-organised land reforms obliged capital to orient investment more towards industry and, finally, the state also channelled US aid towards capital accumulation. On the whole, because of the lower concentration of capital in Taiwan, the state played a more important role there than in South Korea.

In both countries the state played a leading role in the process of the concentration of capital into massive monopolies, for example, the so-called chaebols in South Korea. In Taiwan state capital played a dominant role in industry, accounting for 55% of total industrial production in the early 1950s, but even then the GMD regime transferred four big concerns to private hands.

Private capital was similarly encouraged in South Korea. According to one study, most of today’s 50 biggest industrial groups were established in the period 1945-61.27 Such conglomerates dominate the national economy, especially in South Korea. The 10 biggest chaebols account for 65% of GNP and the 10 biggest exporters for 70% of all exports.28

State capitalist property played a bigger role in Taiwan than in South Korea. After the expulsion of the Japanese, Taiwan put many of the abandoned enterprises under state control. As a result, 90% of business capital fell into state hands. In the years 1952-61, 51.3% of industrial production came from state owned firms.

However, in subsequent decades systematic privatisation has reversed the position and between 1982-87 private production was responsible for 83.8% of the total. In South Korea, by contrast, private capitalist ownership took the lead from the beginning (86-88%) and remained constant at this level throughout the 1960s and 1970s.29

The importance of state capitalist economic policy can also be seen in investment. For example, between 1962 and 1973, an average of 30% of investment in South Korea was in the public sector. In Taiwan, the regime initiated a series of major projects in the 1970s which acted as a driving force throughout the economy.

Banking is perhaps the most important sector of state monopoly capitalism. After the military coup of 1961 in South Korea, the banks were nationalised. In 1970, 95% of all financial institutions were under state control. In Taiwan, the state owns practically all the banks.

As a result, the state was able to channel cheap credit to industry, thereby stimulating capital accumulation. Various economists believe that the building of the Korean export-oriented finished goods industry in the 1960s and the heavy and chemical industries in the 1970s was only possible on the basis of state credits. The dramatic growth in capital stock was also essentially financed from this credit. At least 50% of all internal credit in the 1970s came from the state and the figure was still running at 30% in the 1980s.30

This represented a huge redistribution of wealth from the peasants and workers to the big capitalists. Because of the general lack of state welfare and health systems the workers and peasants were forced to insure privately. In addition, there were various mechanisms which made it difficult for the small saver to retrieve their money from the banks.

Because of the extremely low rates of interest on savings accounts and the high rates of inflation, savers actually lost money. In South Korea real interest rates were -5.3% (1962-66) -5.7% (1967-71), -6.2% (1972-76) and -3.5% (1977-79).31

Bourgeois economists, instructively, call this “financial repression” and it was a central component of state credit policy because it enabled the banks to lend to employers at favourable interest rates. Here, too, interest rates were negative, employers paid back less than the credit they initially took out!

The state played a functional role for capitalism in several ways. One was through institutionalised co-ordination between the state bureaucracy and big capital. This has been positively emphasised even by the neo-liberals of the World Bank:

“Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore established forums, the so-called Advisory Bodies, to put groups from the private sector in a position where they could influence formulation and implementation of government policy in their interests.”32

The state provided further assistance by overseeing the creation of the institutions of indicative economic planning. In the South Korean Economic Planning Board (EPB) representatives of the state and big capital met on a monthly basis. All important national and international economic data were evaluated and strategies for capital were worked out.

The EPB played a central role in the development of strategies such as export-oriented industrialisation in the 1960s, the creation of heavy and chemical industries in the 1970s and the development of the high technology electronic and car industries at the end of that decade.

Similarly, South Korea pursued a tariff policy aimed at capital accumulation. Duties on imported capital goods were low while those for goods which competed with domestic production, such as textiles, chemicals, heavy industry were high. The special support given by imperialism meant that this had far fewer negative consequences than in other semi-colonies.

Research and Development (R&D) has been of central importance in both Taiwan and South Korea. They rank amongst the countries with the highest proportion of GNP devoted to R&D. This began with concerted efforts in the 1970s.

In 1975, South Korea’s R&D effort represented 0.5% of GNP compared to Chile and Colombia’s 0.1% each. By 1986, the proportion had reached 1.8% (Chile and Thailand 0.5%, Colombia 0.1%) and by the beginning of the 1990s both South Korea and Taiwan had reached 2.5%. The difference becomes particularly clear if spending in the production sector is considered. Here the proportion in South Korea in 1986 was 1.4% GNP, while in Thailand, Chile and Colombia, the proportion was precisely zero.33

An important part of R&D spending comes from the state. In Taiwan, approximately 60% of industrial R&D was privately financed, the other 40% coming from the state.

 

Long term, high rate growth

 

The historic defeat of the working class, the sustained support from imperialism and state directed economic strategy made possible a dynamic accumulation of capital. In South Korea, in the 1960s, capital stock grew by 15.2% per year and in the 1970s it reached 24.7%. This rapid, and long term, capital accumulation was an essential factor in the rise of South Korea and Taiwan from backward semi-colonies to being among the world’s most important exporters of goods and, recently, even of capital, especially in the case of South Korea.

The Japanese economist, Kawai, showed in a comparative study that the rate of accumulation of private domestic gross capital formation in South Korea between 1970 and 1980 averaged 27.2% per year and 12.8% between 1980 and 1990. In Taiwan, the averages were 18.9% (1970-80) and 12.1% (1980-90). This compares to Latin America where scarcely one of the seven countries studied had a rate above 5%.34

To what extent was this rapid capital accumulation dependent on foreign imperialism? As we have already shown the massive and brutal exploitation of the working class allowed an extraordinary rate of surplus value extraction and consequently, accumulation. Nonetheless, imperialist support did play an important role on the economic level as well as the political. This was, in the first place, financial support which was used for capital formation.

Because of the specific political-military interests of imperialism in South Korea and Taiwan, this support for capital accumulation took an indirect form, one whose primary objective was the economic and political stability of the countries rather than direct pursuit of profit. As a result, foreign direct investment (FDI) was of less importance than in other semi-colonies closely tied to imperialism and was low in comparison to other forms of finance. In South Korea FDI accounted for just 1.2% of domestic gross capital formation between 1962 and 1979 while foreign loans were responsible for 18.9%. In total, FDI represented only 10% of total foreign capital, foreign loans made up the rest. 35

In his comparative study, Kawai pointed out that foreign capital as a whole was of relatively little importance in the total capital formation. Thus, the proportion of FDI in total private investment in South Korea was only 1.4% (1970-80) and 0.4% (1980-90). In Taiwan, the significance was similarly slight, but showed an increase in recent years (2.7%, 1980-90).

Naturally, this does not mean that FDI was not important. The South Korean regime (from 1970) and the Taiwanese (from 1965) strove to attract foreign capital into the Export Processing Zones or, later, Export Industrial Estates. By the middle of the 1970s, foreign firms were playing a central role in the exports of both countries: 31.4% of all South Korea’s exports (1974) and 30% of Taiwan’s (1975) were produced by foreign firms. At the same time, the relative strength of South Korean capital can be seen from the fact that four years later this figure had shrunk back to 18.3%.36

The importance of these figures is that they show that FDI did not play an unusually big role in the rapid capital accumulation in South Korea and Taiwan and that it did not limit the development of relatively strong and independent bourgeoisies in the two countries.

 

Bonapartist forms of rule

 

The link between the political oppression of the working class and the state capitalist economic policy is the bonapartist regime that is characteristic of practically all the semi-colonial countries of South East Asia. Whether formally a civilian or military regime bonapartism implies a high degree of executive or presidential power at the expense of the elected parliaments, where such parliaments exist.

The fact that both South Korea and Taiwan were front-line states in the Cold War ensured that the state bureaucracies of these countries could give massive nourishment to their national capitalist class through extensive protectionist measures and yet still count on unconditional military backing and economic assistance from the USA.

As a result the semi-colonial bourgeoisie, whose own class basis was relatively weak, gained a greater degree of stability than others which had to base themselves either on a section of the petty bourgeoisie or even on sections of the working class, or else had to subordinate themselves completely to the imperialists and, consequently, lost all freedom to manoeuvre

There were also quite specific initial conditions which strengthened the high degree of state capitalism in Korean capitalism and, to a lesser extent also Taiwanese. Because of the intensity of the class conflict and the war, the state bureaucracy gained central importance for the survival of capitalism. These factors led to a close, almost symbiotic, relationship between the bureaucracy and the bourgeoisie. Many officers became managers and capitalists. These close bonds between capital and the bureaucracy, especially the army, have been maintained.

In Taiwan, the Guomindang ruled without interruption after 1945. In South Korea, there were, it is true, two changes of government as a result of coups, in 1960/61 and 1979/80. However, the end of the dictatorship and the transition to bourgeois democracy as a result of the mass movement of students and workers in 1987 itself points to the relative stability of capitalist rule, since the changeover was carried through without any serious splits within the ruling class.

 

Results and prospects

 

By the 1980s, successful capitalist industrialisation had allowed South Korea and Taiwan to make progress in advanced economic sectors and to get away from their status as exporters of cheap textiles. Both have become globally important producers and exporters in the electronic and computer sectors and, in the case of South Korea, even in shipbuilding and cars.

The future prospects for South Korea and Taiwan depend on whether they have, in the last period, accumulated enough reserves and strength within the world economy to be able to withstand the much greater instability of the “new world disorder”. For Marxists, therefore, the question of whether they can continue to develop is tantamount to asking whether they have themselves become imperialist powers.

Such a transition is not impossible.37 Whether a state can be characterised as imperialist is not simply a matter of economic statistics but a question of relationships with other existing capitalist states. Nor does the characterisation automatically imply overwhelming military or economic power. There are many “minor imperialisms”, such as Austria or Sweden, which cannot begin to match the USA.

However, in considering South Korea and Taiwan, even in comparison to these subordinate imperialisms, it must not be forgotten that Austria and Sweden did not have to carve out their position in a world already dominated by imperialism. They were, from the beginning, a part of the developing system of world wide exploitation from which their own economies benefited.

In assessing the contemporary character of South Korea and Taiwan, three aspects will be of particular importance: the creation of relatively autonomous monopolies; the fusion of banking and industrial capital into a nationally dominant finance capital; and the increasing importance of the export of capital, particularly with respect to the ability to dominate other countries or regions by such export.

In the 1970s and early 1980s a South Korean monopoly capital was created that today exercises absolute hegemony within the national economy and a decisive influence over the politics of the bourgeois regime. Whereas the production of the ten biggest chaebols accounted for only 15.1% of GNP in 1974, by 1983 their share was already 65.2%.

Both the neo-liberals and the “new growth” theorists are agreed that capital accumulation in Taiwan is noticeably less. This economy is more strongly marked by small and medium enterprises. This can be seen in an analysis of the internationally active concerns from the two countries. Of the ten biggest multinational corporations, measured by foreign assets, whose origins lie in the Third World, four come from South Korea, whereas the biggest from Taiwan comes in at number 14.38

Capital exports are more important for Marxists than simple GDP growth rates because such exports show the relative strength and independence of any given capital. Both South Korea and Taiwan have only recently become significant exporters of capital. Up to the mid-1980s commodity exports were clearly dominant, corresponding to the classic picture of the semi-colony. But since then capital export began to increase.

In 1992, South Korea became a net capital exporter. However, the relative weight of Korean capital exports is not great in comparison to the whole economy: between 1990 and 1994 Korean FDI reached a value of 2% of GNP. In Taiwan, the same proportion, at 7.8%, was higher. All the same, the proportion of foreign owned investment to GNP in Taiwan also exceeded the South Korean value (Taiwan: 5.6%, South Korea: 3.3%).

The importance of capital exports was, therefore, less than in the USA (1990-94: 9.1% FDI/GNP) but was greater than in weak imperialist countries such as Austria (in 1990 1.05% but in 1993 only 0.77%). In 1993, the total value of South Korean FDI was over US$1,000 million, that of Taiwan was US$2,400 millions, Japan US$13,700 millions and that of Austria US$1,600 millions.39

However, a more detailed inspection is necessary in the analysis of capital exports from South Korea and Taiwan. It is common in East and South East Asia for multinational concerns, above all from Japan and the USA, to establish production facilities and then to export capital from them into the region or even globally. Singapore is the best example of this. Its FDI has a value of 13.3% of GNP (1990-94), but as can be seen from the dominance of foreign capital (foreign FDI/GNP 91%), these exports mainly come from the imperialist plants.

It would be an exaggeration to explain the increase in South Korean and Taiwanese capital exports entirely by such imperialist investments. South Korean and Taiwanese firms did gain market share in the USA at the expense of Japan. Nevertheless, with the end of the Cold War, US imperialism was no longer willing to give preferential access to the two countries and withdrew the status of “Generalised System of Preferences” in 1989.

The strength, especially of South Korean capital, is shown by the fact that recently, despite harsher international competition, it was able to make significant investments in the computer sector in the USA, to establish a car plant in Britain and to purchase the Polish car industry. These investments were not in relatively unimportant niches but in central sectors of the world economy. Not only that, despite a 9% revaluation of the Won and a 20% increase in wages, the chaebols in 1987 were able to increase production by 16% and net profits by 34%.40

South Korea and Taiwan have also been able to make their presence felt as regional powers in South East Asia. At the end of the 1980s Taiwan replaced the USA as the second biggest foreign investor in the ASEAN countries and Japan as the biggest foreign investor in Malaysia. In Vietnam, Taiwanese capital also has first place. South Korean capital exports to ASEAN countries went mainly into processing industries (two thirds of accumulated FDI) in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. The German Asia expert Köllner went so far as to say that:

“The ASEAN states, together with China, have become an extended production line for South Korean firms” 41

Such developments, however, are counterbalanced by some serious problems and countervailing tendencies. Although South Korea’s trade balance with the USA has long been positive, that with Japan was in the red for decades. Only in the years 1987-90 was the trend reversed. In the 1990s the deficit has grown bigger than ever, US$4,800 million in 1990, $9,700 million in 1991. Quite apart from the financial implications, this deficit highlights the technologically dependent position of South Korea.

A further problem related to the assessment of the importance of capital flows in and out of the Tiger economies is that much of the inflow is of credit and, consequently, a significant part of the outflows are not exports at all but interest payments to the imperialist creditors.

The importance of capital exports from the two countries has to be qualified on other counts too. Some firms are really just fronts for Japanese or American investors and of Korean and Taiwanese firms whose products, for the most part, are dependent on patents held by imperialist multinationals or are dependent on the importation of key technologies from the imperialist centres. Similarly, while world famous products may be made in Asia under license from US, Japanese or European corporations, the latter corporations retain control of marketing and distribution which allows them to siphon off the bulk of the profits.

Berhard and Ravenhill give the example that, although Taiwan was the leading producer of computer monitors in 1991, with 39% of the world market, the key component, responsible for 30-35% of the total value of the product, came from a Japanese firm.42 Similarly, they cite a study which showed that in 1987, 36% of the components of the Korean electronics industry came from Japan.

Apart from these considerations, a certain distinction has to be drawn between South Korea and Taiwan. In Taiwan, in the last 10 years, the proportion of foreign investments has greatly increased. One of the reasons for this is the big export outlets in South East Asia and the booming Chinese market. In this connection, Taiwanese capital is not in a good position to develop its own technologies and capital exports because of a lower degree of concentration. This means that dependence on foreign technology and capital exports is higher. For the same reason, South Korean multinationals are much stronger in the world market in comparison to Taiwan.

The question as to whether South Korea and Taiwan have managed to overcome their semi-colonial status revolves around their ability to overcome their dependent relationship within the international framework at the economic, political and military levels.

We think that Taiwan remains a very advanced semi-colony, but certainly not an imperialism. Decisive in this is the low degree of development of monopoly capital which results in a greater dependence on imperialist “mother firms” for the export of capital. The higher mass of capital exports is certainly an important factor but it has to be seen in relation to the higher import of capital from the imperialist states.

Development in South Korea is more advanced than in Taiwan. As we have shown, the high degree of monopolisation has made possible a relatively important position in the world market. However, capital export has only become of central importance in the recent past and in total is still not very great. It remains to be seen whether this will change in the coming years. As regards the internal situation, the chaebols are going to have to deal with three central problems.

First, they face the urgent necessity of cutting their debts. As in Japan, the close merger between banks and industrial concerns has led to a mountain of debt. In the next few years, the government is going to have to deal with this. This will lead to firms collapsing, increased taxes for the working class and so on. This problem can be resolved but as the longlasting problems of Japan have shown, the obstacles are very big.

In particular, they will be made more difficult by increasing international competition and a tendency towards protectionism among the established powers. This will be made worse by the changed international political situation in which the grounds for the Tigers’ earlier advantages have disappeared, only to be replaced by moves towards regional “bloc-building” by the imperialists. The same states are now unlikely to tolerate the emergence of new imperialist rivals. At the same time, a second rank of would-be tigers, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, are undermining the competitiveness of production in South Korea and Taiwan.

Secondly, South Korea is on the threshold of joining the OECD, the rich club of around 30 top industrial nations. But the price of membership is opening up the closed capital markets in South Korea to foreign capital. This will lead to vulnerable monopolies being taken over, leading to many familiar names in Korean electronics and cars being effectively owned by the more efficient imperialist rivals in Europe, the US or Japan.

Finally, and above all, there looms the biggest challenge of all, the growth of the working class within South Korea itself. The huge economic progress of the last four decades has brought into being a new and militant working class, already tried and tested in the battles that have raged on the streets, in the factories and in the shipyards.

The coming international competition to the power of the chaebols will lead the Korean bosses to take on this class that has begun so recently to build up its trade union strength. The outcome of that battle will not only decide the character of South Korea but may well determine the future of Asia’s “economic miracle”.

 

Footnotes

*The original article, Der Kapitalistische Aufholsprozesses in Sudkorea und Taiwan: Bilanz und Analyse, appeared in Revolutionarer Marxismus. It has been shortened for this edited version.

1 The “four tigers” of S. E Asia are South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

2 Ranis, G. “Another Look at the East Asian Miracle”, World Bank Economic Review, 3/1995 p511

3 Hamilton, Clive, “Capitalist Industrialisation”, in Journal of Contemporary Asia, 1/1983 p39

4 ibid. p.38

5 Ranis op cit p511

6 Hamilton op cit p40

7 see also Nolan p48

8 Hamilton op cit p50

9 Hung, Rudy “The Great U-Turn in Taiwan”, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 2/1996

10 Hamilton op cit.p51

11 ibid.

12 Lutte Ouvrier, in International Communist Forum 16 London 1994 p13

13 Ranis op cit p513. Compared to 2.4% in South Korea

14 ibid p525

15 Page, John “Das ostasiatische Wirtschaftswunder”, in Finanzierung &Entwicklung Maerz 1994 p3

16 Quoted in, Ogle, George, South Korea: Dissent Within the Economic Miracle, London 1990 pix

17 Deyo, Frederick, Beneath the Miracle, Berkeley 1993 p98

18 Douglass, Michael, in Journal of Contemporary Asia 1/1993 p155

19 Ranis, op cit p514

20 ibid

  1. Lutte Ouvriere op.cit p5

22 Hamilton, op.cit p1

23 Amirahmadi, Hooshang, in Journal of Contemporary Asia 2/1989 p177

24 Hamilton op.cit p53

25 Xinyi, Xu, in Internationales Asienforum, 1-2/1996 p54

26 Hamilton op.cit p43

27 ibid p48

28 Amirahmadi op.cit p179

29 Ranis op.cit p511

30 See Vittas, D. and Cho, Y “Die Rolle der Kreditpolitik in Japan und Korea”, in Finanzierung&Entwicklumg, op cit.

31 Kwon, Jene, “The East Asia Challenge to Neoclassical Orthodoxy”, in World Development 4/1994

32 ibid p5

33 Pietrobelli, Carlo, Development Policy Review, 4/1994 pp115-148

34 Kawai, Hiroki, “International Comparative Analysis of Economic Growth” in The Developing Economies, December 1994

35 Castley, R.J. “The Role of Japanese Investment in South Korea’s Manufacturing Sector” in Development Policy Review, 1996, p69

36 Xinyi op.cit p58

37 Our international tendency concluded several years ago that South Africa, because of its unique circumstances both internally and internationally, had been able to establish itself as an imperialist power, albeit a minor one.

38 Far Eastern Economic Review, 31 October 1996

39 Schultz, S. Intereconomics November/December 1995 p296

40 Irwan, A. “Business Patronage, Class Struggle and the Manufacturing Sectors” in Journal of Contemporary Asia, 4/1989 p409

41 Koellner, P. “Suedkoreas Direktinvestition in der ASEAN”, in Suedostasien Aktuell, Maerz 1996 p171

42 Berhard, M. and Ravenhill, J. Beyond Product Cycles and Flying Geese, in World Development 1/1994

43 For example, Amsden, Alice, in a review of “The East Asian Miracle” in World Development 4/1994.

44 Lutte Ouvriere op cit p7

 

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cropped-supporters_of_britain_red_liberation.pngG20 Summit: A Symbol for Global Capitalism and its Crisis

Imperialist Leaders Maneuver amid Accelerating Rivalry between the Great Powers and Mass Protests on the Streets

 

Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 10.07.2017, www.thecommunists.net

 

 

 

  1. The G20 Summit in Germany’s port city of Hamburg and the events surrounding it represent an accurate picture of the present world situation. During their 7-8 July meeting, the imperialist leaders desperately negotiated behind closed doors in an attempt to reach a compromise that would bridge the gaps between their conflicting interests. While they succeeded in doing so for issues on which they share common interests, they glaringly failed to do so for other matters. At the same time as the conference was being held, militant mass demonstrations on the streets of Hamburg reflected popular outrage towards the arrogant “leaders” of the world.

 

  1. We are living in a world of drastic upheavals. Among other things, this is reflected in the fact that, for the first time in the history of such summits, the imperialist leaders of the world’s biggest powers were forced to formally admit in their official communiqué issued at the end of their negotiations that they failed to reach an agreement on the issue of climate change. US President Donald Trump – in contrast to all other heads of states – insisted that the world’s biggest imperialist power, as well as its second-largest emitter of carbon, will formally leave the so-called Paris Climate Accord. The significance of this is that the US will now see itself free to increase its greenhouse gas emissions which, to a large extent, are responsible for a large portion of global warming. Furthermore, in the recent G20 summit, the Great Powers could only thinly conceal their profound disagreement on the issue of global trade. Again, in particular it was Donald Trump who adhered to his chauvinist-protectionist “America First” policy.

 

  1. Of course, behind this lack of consensus there are no ideological differences between the various parties, arising from the adherence of one side or another to some more “progressive” goals. Rather, while still the biggest power, albeit a rapidly declining one, US imperialism is both in a position to take a more aggressive protectionist stand against its rivals, as well as simultaneously being forced to do so. The other imperialist powers – like the European Union, China, Russia or Japan – are by no means more progressive than the North American aging giant.

 

  1. On issues where the interests of the imperialists coincided, they were able to make “progress” – to the detriment of the oppressed peoples. Trump and Putin, together with their respective foreign ministers, held a long meeting where seem to have reached a significant amount of agreement on how to liquidate the popular uprising in Syria. They formally agreed to impose a cease-fire and to create a “de-escalation zone” in the regions of Deraa, Quneitra and Suweida. US Secretary of State Tillerson emphasized the joint reactionary interests of these two imperialist powers in smashing the armed popular struggle against the Assad dictatorship and pacifying the country by a settlement imposed by the Great Powers (in the template of the so-called “Astana-Deal”). Reporting on the meeting of the world’s two biggest robbers, Tillerson said: “And I would tell you that, by and large, our objectives are exactly the same. How we get there, we each have a view. But there’s a lot more commonality to that than there are differences. So we want to build on the commonality, and we spent a lot of time talking about next steps.” Tillerson even openly admired Russia’s aggressive support for the Assad’s barbaric war which has claimed the lives until now of at least half a million persons: “Maybe they’ve got the right approach and we’ve got the wrong approach,”[!] said the former CEO of ExxonMobile, US Secretary of State (New York Times: U.S., Russia and Jordan Reach Deal for Cease-Fire in Part of Syria, 7.7.2017)

 

  1. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and its sections in the Middle East restate their support for the ongoing Syrian Revolution. We call upon all activists around the world to continue their solidarity work with the workers and peasants of Syria in their heroic fight against the Assad regime and encourage them reject any counter-revolutionary settlement initiative like the Astana Deal. We similarly express our support for the right of national self-determination for all oppressed peoples – including the Kurdish people in Turkey and Syria. Long live the socialist revolution!

 

  1. The G20 summit also approved German chancellor Merkel’s misnamed “Partnership for Africa” initiative. While ostensibly designed to aid the impoverished African peoples, this initiative in fact only serves the interests of the imperialist monopolies by letting them buy up Africa’s raw materials, while they avoid paying taxes to the governments of these nations, and instead repatriate their huge profits back to their home countries. Furthermore, the initiative openly serves the imperialist agenda – in particularly that of the European Union – by strengthening its political and military grip on northern and central Africa in order to put down armed resistance and to prevent millions of Africans migrating to Europe (see, e.g., the French president Macron’s recent initiative to create a 5,000 soldier-strong regional anti-terror force for the Sahel region).

 

  1. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and its Zimbabwean section condemn the imperialist “Partnership for Africa.” We once again emphasize our solidarity with the popular resistance against imperialist exploitation and oppression on the African continent. We support popular uprisings against reactionary dictatorships and austerity attacks. Likewise, the RCIT calls upon the working class and the oppressed of Africa to expropriate the imperialist monopolies and expel the troops of the Great Powers along with their local auxiliaries. For a socialist federation of Black Africa!

 

  1. The G20 summit also impressively demonstrated the wide-spread popular outrage against the imperialist leaders who are destroying the social and ecological living conditions of humanity. For three days more than 100,000 people protested in the streets of Hamburg, expressing the rejection of the agenda of the Great Powers by the workers and oppressed around the world. These protests were also a vivid demonstration that the world-wide popular struggle against the attacks of the ruling class around have not receded – contrary to various predictions of doomsayers among the reformist and centrist left.

 

  1. The brutal attacks against the demonstrators by a force of German police numbering 21,000 cops equipped with numerous anti-riot water cannon vehicles – and including at one point the presence of special police units openly wearing machine guns on the streets – showed once more that the state apparatus is a tool of repression in the service of the ruling capitalist class.

 

  1. Naturally, such a positive evaluation of the mass protests against the G20 summit should not allow us to ignore some obvious weaknesses in its organization. Among them was the counter-productive role of some sectors of the so-called Black Block anarchists who senselessly attacked and, in several instances, even set alight small shops and ordinary cars. It was also very problematic that a large contingent of the Kurdish PKK/YPG marched at the head of the huge demonstration of 100,000 on Saturday. This sent a very wrong signal to the world and in particular to the Syrian people given the utterly reactionary role of the petty-bourgeois Stalinist-nationalist YPG as foot soldiers of US imperialism in their offensive to conquer northern Syria. All these weaknesses reflect the still influential role of Stalinist and anarchist forces among the so-called “left” in Germany.

 

  1. In the light of the mass protests against the G20 summit, the RCIT reemphasizes the conclusions of its “Urgent Call for Revolutionary Unity” as well as other programmatic documents: We call upon all organizations and activists honestly striving towards the creation of a new Revolutionary World Party to join forces on a joint programmatic basis. The RCIT is committed to serious discussions and the closest possible collaboration with all forces who share such an outlook.

 

 

 

International Secretariat

 

 

 

* * * *

 

 

 

For the RCIT analysis of the current world situation and the acceleration of capitalism’s contradictions, we refer readers to our numerous articles and documents accessed on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/. In particular we refer readers to the following documents:

 

RCIT: World Perspectives 2017: The Struggle against the Reactionary Offensive in the Era of Trumpism. Theses on the World Situation, the Perspectives for Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries, 18 December 2016, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-perspectives-2017/

 

RCIT: Theses on Capitalism and Class Struggle in Black Africa, 13 April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/africa-theses/

 

RCIT: Syria: Condemn the Reactionary Astana Deal! The so-called “De-Escalation Zones” are a First Step towards the Partition of Syria and a Conspiracy by the Great Powers to Defeat the Revolution, 7 May 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/astana-deal/

 

Michael Pröbsting: Is the Syrian Revolution at its End? Is Third Camp Abstentionism Justified? An essay on the organs of popular power in the liberated area of Syria, on the character of the different sectors of the Syrian rebels, and on the failure of those leftists who deserted the Syrian Revolution, 5 April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/syrian-revolution-not-dead/

 

RCIT: Urgent Call for Unity and a Joint Struggle on a Revolutionary Platform. An Open Letter to All Authentic Revolutionaries for an International Conference on the 100th Anniversary of the October Revolution to Advance the Building of a Revolutionary World Party, 09.01.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit/urgent-call-revolutionary-unity-1/

 

Michael Pröbsting: The Meaning, Consequences and Lessons of Trump‘s Victory. On the Lessons of the US Presidential Election Outcome and the Perspectives for the Domestic and International Class Struggle, 24.November 2016, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/meaning-of-trump/

 

 

 

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cropped-supporters_of_britain_red_liberation.pngZambia: Down with the State of Emergency!

 

Everyone Out to the Streets to Fight for Democratic Rights and against the IMF-Imposed Austerity Attacks!

 

Joint Statement of the International Secretariat of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and the Socialist League of Zimbabwe (Section of the RCIT in Zimbabwe), 09.07.2017, www.thecommunists.net

 

 

 

  1. Zambian President Edgar Lungu declared a state of emergency throughout the country on 6 July in the wake of a series of fires which broke out in markets and courts in Lusaka, Kabwe, Mongu, Monze and Choma. While Lungu has made the extremely dubious claim that the political opposition is responsible for these “acts of sabotage,” it is much more likely that the regime itself initiated these provocations.

 

  1. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and its Zimbabwean Section strongly condemn this declaration of a state of emergency. This is an authoritarian step by a reactionary regime rapidly losing any popular support following its imposition of drastic austerity measures dictated by the IMF, as well as its shameless attacks on basic democratic rights. We call upon all workers, poor peasants and youth in Zambia to protest against this anti-democratic and reactionary act and to begin making preparations for a general strike.

 

  1. Zambia is an impoverished, semi-colonial country where the economic conditions of the masses reflect its victimhood to the imperialist exploitation and oppression of the entire African continent. Zambia is rich in raw materials, being Africa’s second largest producer of copper, ranking seventh globally. Furthermore, the country has considerable reserves of uranium, a mineral in high demand, particularly with the increase in civilian nuclear energy projects around the world.

 

  1. However, being dominated by imperialist monopolies, Zambia has been unable to develop a diversified domestic economy, with the result that it is almost entirely dependent on its exports of copper and cobalt, which together account for 64% of the country’s total exports. Consequently, when the price of raw materials collapsed on the world market in 2015, Zambia was heavily impacted. Today about 60.5% of Zambians live below the officially-recognized national poverty line, and it can be taken for granted that real unemployment is much higher than the official figure of 14%.

 

  1. Under the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), since the early 1990s Zambia has been forced to privatize large sectors of its industry as well as cut state subsidies. Today, the country is dominated by Western imperialist powers like the US and Britain, by South Africa as well as by the great emerging Asian imperialist power of China. Since last year, the country’s stock of external debt has increased by US$300 million to US$7.2 billion, the latter being equivalent to 31% of the country’s GDP. As a result, with the IMF’s pistol at it temple, the government has announced a 75% rise in its tariff for electricity, a measure which will further aggravate the dire economic conditions of most people. Cuts to fuel subsidies are also in the cards.

 

  1. The government’s series of austerity attacks, as well as the effects of the foreign domination have provoked popular resistance as well as growing divisions inside the ruling class. President Lungu emerged as the successor head of state following a power struggle after the death of President Michael Sata at the end of 2014. Lungu and his misnamed “Patriotic Front” (PF) are governing the country in the interests of the imperialist monopolies. However, in order to accommodate popular outrage they camouflage their pro-IMF policy with some “anti-imperialist” rhetoric. As this is not sufficient to stabilize the political situation, Lungu is increasingly suppressing all dissident voices. His authoritarian, Bonapartist regime is systematically silencing the media, including having closed the country’s biggest independent newspaper, The Post. It has arrested many activists of opposition parties. It has banned student union activities at the University of Zambia in the capital Lusaka. It has even arrested Hakainde Hichilema, the leader of the main opposition party – the United Party for National Development (UPND) –, under the Kafkaesque pretext that his convoy failed to pull off the road and make way for Lungu’s motorcade!

 

  1. However, the RCIT warns against having any illusion in Hichilema and his UPND. Hichilema is a former business consultant and darling of the business elite. He limits his rhetorical protests on democratic issues but fails to raise any opposition against the draconian IMF programs. Both the PF as well as the UPND are openly bourgeois parties which loyally serve the imperialist powers and the domestic capitalist class.

 

  1. It is urgent that socialist and democratic activists in Zambia prepare for mass struggles against the pro-IMF attacks on social gains and public ownership of key industries, as well as against the regime’s attack on democratic rights. They should call for the immediate release of all political prisoners. Activists should also call for the formation of action committees in the workplaces, schools, universities and neighborhoods. They should push the trade unions to organize strike actions. They should also advocate a united front of all forces which are ready to fight against these attacks. Such popular protests should be united in a general strike and a popular uprising to bring down the Lungu regime. In this context it is important to advocate the formation of self-defense groups designed to protect the masses against attacks by the regime’s thugs and which, in the future, can serve as a springboard for workers and peasant militias.

 

  1. It is crucial that socialists in Zambia organize to build a new mass party of the working class which also defends the interests of the urban and rural poor. Such a party must be independent of any factions of the capitalist class as well as of all imperialist powers. Such a party must be democratic, with all functionaries earning no more than the wages of an average worker. Such a party should help organize the working class to fight back against all economic and political attacks by the regime, the IMF and the Great Powers. Furthermore, the RCIT proposes that such a party should combine the struggle for the defense of the immediate interests of the masses with a program for the expropriation of the foreign monopolies and the big domestic capitalists, culminating in a revolutionary overthrow of the ruling class and the founding of a socialist state led by the workers and peasants.

 

  1. The RCIT calls upon activists in Zambia to link the struggle against the Lungu regime with a Pan-African and global perspective. Our struggle for liberation in Zambia must be tied to the struggle of our brothers and sisters against the imperialist powers and domestic reactionary regimes – starting from Zimbabwe and Morocco to the popular struggles against Assad in Syria, General al-Sisi in Egypt, and against the ongoing Israeli aggression of the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.

 

The RCIT sends its greetings to all Zambian revolutionaries and calls them to join forces with us in the international struggle for a socialist future!

 

* Down with the State of Emergency! Defend democratic rights! Immediate freedom for all political prisoners!

 

* Down with the IMF-imposed austerity programs!

 

* For the renationalization of all key industries under control of the employees!

 

* For the forming of action committees in the workplaces, schools, universities and neighborhoods!

 

* For a united front of all forces to stop the attacks of the Lungu regime!

 

* Everyone out to the streets! Prepare for a general strike!

 

* For a program of public employment and the rescinding of social cuts!

 

* For a workers’ and peasant government based on popular councils and militias!

 

* For a united Intifada of the workers and peasants – from Lusaka, Harare, Rabat, Idlib, and Cairo to Jerusalem!

 

* For a socialist federation in Black Africa!

 

* For a new mass workers’ party! For a revolutionary Workers International!

 

 

 

* * * *

 

 

 

For the RCIT analysis of the liberation in Black Africa, we refer readers to our numerous articles and documents accessed from the Africa and Middle East section of our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/. In particular we refer readers to the following documents:

 

RCIT: Theses on Capitalism and Class Struggle in Black Africa, 13 April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/africa-theses/

 

Platform of the Socialist League of Zimbabwe (Section of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency), https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/rcit-zimbabwe-platform/

 

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cropped-supporters_of_britain_red_liberation.pngLetter to South African Socialists on the “Platform for the Left Bloc in the ‘Zuma Must Go’ Campaign”

 

 

Note of the Editorial Board: Below we publish a letter which has been circulated amongst socialists in South Africa. It has been sent by the RCIT in late May in response to the publication of the draft “Platform for the Left Bloc in the ‘Zuma Must Go’ Campaign” written by the comrades Ahmed Jooma and Shaheen Khan. The platform has been published on the website of the Khanya journal (http://khanyajournal.org.za/platform-of-the-left-bloc-in-the-zuma-must-go-campaign/).

 

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

Dear comrades,

 

 

 

Thanks for forwarding us your “Platform for the Left Bloc in the ‘Zuma Must Go’ Campaign“. We think that this document is highly interesting and provides a useful basis for discussion among revolutionaries in South Africa and internationally.

 

In the following letter we would like to outline some observations on your platform. We will not outline here our assessment of the political situation in South Africa in the last years and refer you, as a summary of our views, to two documents of the RCIT (http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/south-africa-election-tactics/, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/south-africa-workers-party/) as well as our recently published Theses on Black Africa (https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/africa-theses/).

 

Obviously we ask you to take into account that we have to refrain ourselves to rather general remarks as we are not so closely familiar with the current concrete situation in South Africa. Hence we will focus here on some analytical and methodological issues.

 

We want to emphasize that we agree with your economic analysis, your general anti-capitalist and socialist outlook as well as your denunciation of the Stalinist/ANC strategy of NDR which in fact has always been only a cover for its capitulation to White Monopoly Capital.

 

Your analysis of the ‘State Capture’ by the Zuma faction of the ANC and its fusion with a sector of capital (Gupta, etc.) sounds sensible and convincing to us.

 

You repeatedly speak about the ANCYL/WL/MKMVA as (semi-)fascist forces. While we are aware that petty-bourgeois-nationalist, populist forces have the potential to become fascists, we are not sure if this is a correct characterization in this case. In general, we would warn against a too loose use of the term “fascist” and would restrict it to paramilitary movements in the service of imperialist capital with the goal to annihilate the workers government and bourgeois democracy. In our opinion it is not necessary to characterize the Zupta regime as potentially fascist in order to legitimize the need to focus the struggle against it. Yes, revolutionaries should support the present mass protests against the regime because it represents a reactionary, increasingly Bonapartist neoliberal regime in the service of monopoly capital.

 

We agree that revolutionaries must not support any wing in the current power struggle inside the bourgeois, popular-frontist ANC.

 

We agree with your assessment of the present situation as having the potential to transform into an “Arab Spring” situation and hence the necessity to fight for a revolutionary Action Program.

 

We agree with your criticism of the NUMSA leadership and of their strategy of abstaining from the growing mass movement.

 

It seems correct to us to say that the present mass movement against the Zuma regime has a cross-class character. We also share your approach that it would be sectarian to organize a small movement outside of this mass movement. It is necessary to fight inside this mass movement and to combine it with a perspective to fight for working class independence and against the influence of the bourgeois (e.g. DA) and petty-bourgeois parties (e.g. EFF) and to finally destroy their influence.

 

In this context it might be worth mentioning that Trotsky – contrary to the ultra-leftists – also argued for working inside the mass action committees of the French popular front in the 1930s in order to better break up the popular front.

 

On the other hand, joining organized political popular front campaign like “Save SA” would be completely unprincipled for Marxists.

 

We strongly support your perspective to call for the creation of action committees as the basis for an authentic mass movement.

 

Our biggest difference with your document is probably that we consider your call Bring Forward General Elections!” as completely wrong. We consider it as wrong because it shifts the focus of the current mass struggle to a parliamentary level. Naturally, if elections take place revolutionaries will not ignore it and either stand candidates independently, participate in a workers party or give critical support to reformist/left-populist parties. But in the current situation it would massively disorientate the mass movement if you call for elections now. The focus must rather be to better organize and mobilize the mass movement towards a general strike and a popular uprising in order to prepare for the overthrow of the government. This could open the perspective for the formation of the government of the workers and poor.

 

In contrast your slogan of elections now does NOT open the perspective for a workers government because i) such a workers government should be based on soviet-like councils and militias and not the parliament and ii) there exists currently no party you could call to vote for and which would fight for a workers government inside the parliament.

 

In this context we want to draw your attention to the fact that you do not mention the issue of the armed self-defense of the working class and the poor against the state repression and the “fascists” a single time! This however seems to us to be an important issue – even more so should it be for you since you characterize your enemies partly as “fascists”! We also mention this because there is a strong reformist tradition in South Africa which creates illusions in the possibility of a peaceful transformation to socialism (the Stalinist SACP, the centrist CWI/WASP, etc). Hence these forces all oppose or are silent on the necessity of the arming of the working class and the poor. The task of revolutionaries is to fight against such illusions and openly denounce their reformist supporters.

 

In general we feel you should give more emphasis to the issue of building a mass workers party respectively a Bolshevik organization fighting for a revolutionary program. A “Left Bloc” in the best case can only be a temporary thing.

 

Finally we have a question to you: do you consider South Africa as an imperialist or a semi-colonial state? Or do you share Patrick Bond’s opinion that it is sub-imperialist?

 

We hope our comments are of any use for you and look forward to your thoughts.

 

 

 

Revolutionary Greetings,

 

Michael Pröbsting (International Secretary of the RCIT) and Tinashe Mhukahuru (Zimbabwe Section of the RCIT)

 

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